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Raising A Family in a Camphill Community

Raising A Family in a Camphill Community
Article by Rebecca Bissonnette 
Raising family in Camphill along with special needs youth

Written for Camphill Association as an admissions tool for people looking to join Camphill as a family:

My name is Rebecca Bissonnette. After high school, I attended Cornell University and graduated with a BS in Human Development. I was interested in doing service work through Americorps and decided to do a year at Triform Camphill Community. I found I had a deep connection to the work and I have been part of Triform Camphill Community for 12 years. While attending the Camphill Academy, I met my husband, who was living at Camphill Village, USA, a few miles down the road. We now run a house in Triform with our two small children, 2 volunteers, 4 residential students, and 2 day students.

I appreciate many things about living in Camphill, but one of the greatest is the atmosphere that is offered to me as a mother. I am essentially a “stay at home mom,” but connected to the work of the community, which extends far beyond my door. The tasks of homemaking–cooking, cleaning, attending to the needs of those in your household–are elevated to an almost sacred level in Camphill. It is within the home that one creates the rhythm that is fundamental to this life and the therapeutic environment for the unfolding of the individual. This selfless activity of making home is what all mothers strive to do for their children; in Camphill your efforts benefit not only your own children, but the whole household.

My husband is currently the vegetable gardener at Triform. Outside of helping me manage the home, he runs a garden work area that grows produce for the community and trains young adults with special needs that live at Triform. I appreciate that his work is so accessible to our children. They can understand what he is doing, visit him often in the garden, and sometimes help with certain tasks. He gets to see the children at all three meals a day. The community allows us both flexibility to attend school events.

There are many other families with small children in Triform right now. My children have many mothers and fathers, and can see how other families love and care for each other. When I need to attend a meeting or teach a class, there are other mothers there to offer wonderful childcare. And I really appreciate having a community of friends to turn to when I have questions about how to parent well or concerns about how my children are doing.

The festivals of the year are celebrated in Camphill in a full and living way. I am very happy that our family lives immersed in the color, the creativity, the songs, the stories, and the food that come with each of these special days.

Recently, a non-Triform friend of my son came for a play date. When he went home that evening, he told his mother, “Theodore has a lot of brothers and sisters!” While we are not as a household related by blood, we are deeply connected by sharing daily life together. My children benefit from the extra attention that a housemate gives by playing a card game or drawing; they learn about different cultures, languages, and customs by living with the volunteers who come from all over the world; and they see the act of caring for and helping each other all around them at all times.

It is here, in the very social household, that I recognize my children also sacrifice something by living in Camphill: time with just “our family.” They share their parents on a very deep level. I feel that this is balanced by having free time with our family (one day a week here in Triform) and having a family apartment space within the house. When I look at their lives in a whole way, I feel that the benefits of this lifestyle outweigh the less concentrated family time that we have as four people.

Overall, I am appreciative of all the gifts that this lifestyle gives to our family. It is sometimes a juggling act, but when I look at my friends outside of Camphill living their lives as young parents, I see them also with many balls in the air! I feel creatively inspired by my work here and nourished by my relationships with my colleagues–ultimately this inner contentment is the most important example a child can look up to.

We welcome families to join our communities each year, check out our current openings – perhaps Camphill is a fit for your family!

http://www.camphill.org/apply

Original article can be found at http://www.camphill.org/blog/raising-a-family-in-community

Posted at December 29, 2015 | By : | Categories : Uncategorized

Comment

  • Unknown

    January 25, 2016 at 10:05 PM

    Beautifully said, Rebecca. Thank You!

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